The Movie Network

For the defunct Australian movie service, see Movie Network.
Not to be confused with the U.S. premium television service, The Movie Channel.
The Movie Network

The Movie Network logo
Launched February 1, 1983
Owned by Bell Media
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Slogan Have It All
Country Canada
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide[1]
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Formerly called First Choice (1983–1984, 1989–1993)
First Choice Superchannel (1984–1989)
Replaced Movie Central (in Western/Northern Canada, as of March 1, 2016)
Sister channel(s) The Movie Network Encore
Super Écran
Website The Movie Network
Bell TV 300-303 (East) (SD)
308-310 (West) (SD)
1251-1253 (East) (HD)
1261-1263 (West) (HD)
Shaw Direct 232-235 (East) (SD)
251-253 (West) (SD)
641 & 642 (East) (HD)
647-649 (West) (HD)
Available on most Canadian cable systems Consult your local cable provider for channel availability
Bell Aliant 362-365 (SD)
574-577 (HD)
Bell Fibe TV 300-303 (SD)
1300-1303 (HD)
MTS 211-213 (SD)
1211-1213 (HD)
Optik TV 9406-9409 (SD)
406-409 (HD)
SaskTel 200-202 (SD)
500-502 (HD)
VMedia 301-306 (HD)
Zazeen 170-171 (SD)
168-169, 173-174 (HD)

The Movie Network (sometimes abbreviated TMN) is a Canadian English language Category A premium cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Bell Media. Launched in 1983 as the national service First Choice, an industry restructuring led to its operations being restricted to Eastern Canada from 1984 to 2016. It resumed national operations in March 2016, when it replaced the similar Movie Central service in Western and Northern Canada.

Although the channel's name implies that it focuses solely on theatrically released motion pictures, The Movie Network's programming also includes original and foreign television series, made-for-cable movies and documentaries, pornographic films, live sports events and occasional stand-up comedy and concert specials.

The Movie Network is carried by various Canadian cable and satellite television providers, including Bell TV, Shaw Direct, Rogers Digital Cable, Vidéotron, EastLink, Cogeco, Seaside Communications, Shaw Communications, and others.



First Choice logo, used from 1983 to 1984 and 1989 to 1992. From 1984 to 1989, the service used a variant of Superchannel's star logo.
Logo used in January 1993 as the service transitioned to using The Movie Network as its primary name. This logo was short-lived; by early 1994 it had been replaced with the first in a succession of "TMN" logos used until 2004.

In 1976, Communications Minister Jeanne Sauvé was quoted as saying "(Canadian) pay television is inevitable". During the 1970s when premium television service HBO and the then up-and-coming Atlanta, Georgia superstation WTBS (now WPCH-TV) became available via satellite in North America, some Canadians who were living in underserved rural areas, wanted access to these services. The Saskatchewan government together with Cable Regina (later Access Communications) set up a provincial pay television network called Teletheatre in 1979.

Growth of grey market television receive-only dishes by 1980 led the Canadian government under the administration of Pierre Trudeau to allow for pay television in Canada, and that there would be hearings to licence pay television networks in Canada. In September 1981, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) held a hearing in Hull, Quebec to license Canada's first pay television networks. There were more than 24 applicants to start such services.

When First Choice made its application to the CRTC in September 1981, the individuals and companies were part of the proposed channel included Donald Sobey (of the Sobeys supermarket chain), J. R. McCaig, Norman Keevil, Royfund Equity Ltd. (a mutual fund division of the Royal Bank of Canada), AGF Management Ltd. and Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. Together, they had $19 million in equity financing and proposed to spend $310.4 million over five years on Canadian television production. Estimated profit (over five years) would be $3.1 million. A pay television licence was issued by the CRTC to "First Choice Canadian Communications Corp." on March 18, 1982.

When First Choice applied to the CRTC, it estimated that to program major American movies, entertainment specials and Canadian movies and specials, pay for satellite time, and marketing of the channel, it could sell it to the cable companies at a wholesale rate of $7.50 each month. However, by the time the channel launched, and providers received their revenue from the pay television services, the retail cost of First Choice jumped significantly to $15.95 (equivalent to $34.81 in 2016).

Launch and evolution

When First Choice, as TMN was then known as, was launched on February 1, 1983, it operated as a national premium service; the network's original slogan was "Look Out for Number One! Look Out for First Choice!" The network inaugurated programming with a two-hour promotional reel announcing the programming that First Choice would carry, followed by a replay of The Who's farewell tour concert special; the airing of The Who concert which had been aired live on other channels in Canada the year before, as well as the two-hour promotional ad had several critics wondering about the channel's claims that it would be commercial-free and not play reruns. These programs were followed by first movie ever to be broadcast on First Choice, For Your Eyes Only.

At 10 a.m. Eastern/7 a.m. Pacific Time that day, First Choice aired Star Wars and continued to replay the film every other day for eight hours. The channel offered its programming for free for 14 days starting with the channel's first day of operation, before it was scrambled, except to those subscribers who wanted to pay the extra fee to continue receiving the channel. Before the advent of stereo television and home theatre systems, subscribers who paid for cable FM service could receive a stereo feed of First Choice. The channel's first president was Donald MacPherson, who departed in 1984 and was succeeded by Harold Greenberg, who remained president of the network until 1996. During its first year, First Choice aired a two-hour block of programming from the American adult-oriented pay service The Playboy Channel (now Playboy TV) as part of a late night programming block on Fridays. The broadcast of these softcore pornographic programs resulted in opposition from many domestic feminist groups.

The "TMN" logo (seen here in black-and-white but normally rendered in a dark red on-air), as it was used from Spring 1996 to March 2001.

After a disappointing run for pay services in general, the industry was restructured and First Choice's service area was restricted to Canadian provinces east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, with competitor Superchannel (now Movie Central) taking territorial rights to the west of that border. Both services used the First Choice-Superchannel name from 1984 to 1988, before they were split again in September 1988. Beginning in 1984 (but particularly after the split from Superchannel), First Choice also made use of the slogan "The Movie Network";[2] this became the name of the channel itself in 1993. In 1993, First Choice and Super Écran was acquired by Astral Communications (later Astral Media).

First Choice was originally granted a bilingual licence; it also operated a 24-hour French-language channel under the same licence, which was called Premier Choix. In early 1984, that service was merged with another Quebec-based pay-television network, TVEC, to form Super Écran, which continues to exist today.[3] On October 1, 1994, The Movie Network launched a companion film service, TMN Moviepix (the channel would undergo two renamings – first to Moviepix in 1996 and then Mpix in 2001 – before eventually becoming The Movie Network Encore on September 18, 2012[4]).

On March 4, 2013, the Competition Bureau approved the takeover of Astral Media by Bell Media.[5] Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the CRTC on March 6, 2013;[6] the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved the merger on June 27, 2013,[7] effectively turning over control of The Movie Network and The Movie Network Encore to Bell.

On November 19, 2015, Movie Central owner Corus Entertainment announced that as a result of a strategic review, it had decided to exit the pay TV business to concentrate on its national specialty channels, and would discontinue Movie Central along with Encore Avenue. To that end, Corus reached an agreement with Bell through which TMN became a national service once again on March 1, 2016, with Movie Central customers automatically transitioning to TMN. TMN Encore also expanded nationally for the first time, and Bell took over full operation of HBO Canada (previously a jointly-operated multiplex channel of both TMN and Movie Central). Although Bell did not buy the Movie Central licence, it paid Corus C$211 million in exchange for Corus' assistance in allowing TMN's national expansion.[8] The CRTC had quietly given administrative approval (i.e., approved without a request for public comment) to applications to allow TMN and TMN Encore to operate nationally in July 2015, so no further regulatory approval was required.[9][10] This meant that Bell was not required to fund a public benefits package worth 10% of the transaction value, as would typically be required by the CRTC in the event of a licence transfer.


The area shaded in green is the broadcast area for TMN's "east" feeds; the remainder of Canada receives "west" feeds.

List of channels

Depending on the service provider, The Movie Network provides up to six 24-hour multiplex channels (all simulcast in both standard definition and high definition) as well as a subscription video-on-demand service, The Movie Network OnDemand.

TMN broadcasts its primary channels (TMN1, TMN2, TMN3, and HBO Canada 1) on an Eastern Time Zone schedule for most viewers east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, and on a Mountain Time Zone schedule for most viewers west of that border, the latter being a holdover from Movie Central's scheduling practices due to its origins in Alberta. After replacing Movie Central in Western and Northern Canada, TMN reverted to a numbering system for its channels similar to most other premium services, after several years of using theme-based branding for its channels. However, these numbers are currently used only on TMN's websites and in electronic program guides (EPGs); on-air continuity announcements on all channels currently refer only to "The Movie Network" or "HBO Canada" as applicable.

The premium classic film service The Movie Network Encore, which is also owned by Bell Media and shares the TMN branding, operates as a separate service under a separate licence – and subscribers to one of the two services do not necessarily have to subscribe to the other. However, TMN Encore is very frequently sold together in a package with The Movie Network.[11] Programs broadcast on TMN are rated according to the Ontario Film Review Board.

Channel Description and programming
TMN1 The main "flagship" channel, including the premiere showings of most films, documentaries and television series including content from the American pay service Showtime, along with Canadian programming.
The opposite-region feed of TMN1 (i.e., the Mountain Time feed in eastern Canada, and the Eastern Time feed in western Canada) is also available through many service providers, branded on TMN's website and most EPGs as TMN4. For subscribers in eastern Canada, this replaced MFest, which was focused on independent and foreign films, in March 2016.
TMN2 Various programming. Prior to March 2016, this channel was known as MFun! and focused on comedic and light-hearted films, specials and series.
TMN3 Various programming, including some adult programming overnight. Prior to March 2016, this channel was known as MExcess and focused on action-oriented movies, plus late night pornographic content.
HBO Canada This channel offers original programming sourced mainly from American premium services HBO and Cinemax. Some providers offer both the East and West feeds, with the in-region feed listed on TMN's website and most EPGs as HBO Canada 1 and the opposite-region feed as HBO Canada 2.

HBO Canada

Main article: HBO Canada

On September 22, 2008, both TMN and Movie Central announced that the two services would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO multiplex channel (available in both standard definition and high definition), called "HBO Canada", on October 30. For TMN subscribers, HBO Canada replaced MMore and MMore HD. For Movie Central subscribers, HBO Canada replaced Movie Central 4. TMN ultimately assumed sole responsibility for the channel after replacing Movie Central in its service area. The channel is available at no additional charge to TMN subscribers and, moreover, is not available on a standalone basis except on MTS TV.

Logo of HBO Canada.

The channel focuses on programming from the U.S. premium service HBO and its sister network Cinemax, including several original series from the two channels, specials and sporting events not previously available in Canada. A selection of Canadian films and series also airs to satisfy Canadian content requirements.[12] HBO programming now airs solely on HBO Canada, as opposed to any of the other TMN multiplex channels.

Under the previous TMN / Movie Central system, HBO Canada was unique in that its schedule was common to both services, with the exception of timeshifting for the Eastern (TMN) and Mountain (MC) time zones. Although essentially operating as a joint venture of Bell and Movie Central's parent company Corus Entertainment, the east and west feeds were technically separate channels wholly owned by the parent company of the applicable regional service. In any event, HBO's parent company Time Warner was not (and continues to not be) a shareholder, and only licenses the name, logo and programming to Bell and (previously) Corus.

Other services

The Movie Network HD

The Movie Network HD is a high definition simulcast feed of The Movie Network that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format. In addition to its main channel, The Movie Network also operates high definition simulcast feeds of its three TMN-branded multiplex channels and HBO Canada. The Movie Network launched its HD feed in May 2005.

HBO Canada began broadcasting in high definition on October 30, 2008, becoming the first TMN multiplex channel to launch its own HD simulcast feeds; followed by MFun and MExcess in 2010.

The remaining TMN multiplex channel, MFest, launched its HD simulcast feed on September 18, 2012.[4]

The Movie Network OnDemand

The Movie Network operates a subscription video-on-demand television service called The Movie Network OnDemand, which is available at no additional charge to new and existing subscribers of The Movie Network. Content featured on the service includes feature films, television series from TMN and outside distributors, and specials. HBO Canada operates a separate SVOD service, HBO Canada On Demand, providing feature films along with series content from American premium service HBO; it is also available to subscribers of TMN on most providers at no additional cost. The rotating program selections on The Movie Network OnDemand and HBO Canada On Demand incorporates select new titles that are added each Friday, alongside existing program titles held over from the previous one to two weeks.

The Movie Network GO

On February 27, 2013, The Movie Network launched The Movie Network GO (or TMN GO), a website and mobile app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, which features 1,500 hours of program content available for streaming in standard or high definition. Content featured on the service includes original programming produced domestically by TMN and acquired from U.S. pay services including HBO, Cinemax and Showtime, along with movies, comedy specials, documentaries and sports programming.[13] The Movie Network GO is not only currently available to TMN subscribers of Bell TV, Bell Fibe TV, Cogeco Cable, Rogers Cable, Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct, but now available on Telus and Sasktel.[13][14]

Movie Entertainment

Movie Entertainment, previously titled Feature, is The Movie Network's monthly in-house magazine for subscribers of the channel, which has been published since June 1990 by Astral (now Bell) subsidiary Feature Publishing. Prior to 1990, subscribers received PrimeTime magazine, a similar publication originated by Superchannel (later Movie Central).

The magazine contains monthly listings for The Movie Network (including HBO Canada) and TMN Encore, as well as various other features related to that month's TMN programming and the entertainment industry in general.[15] With most service providers, Movie Entertainment is automatically mailed to TMN subscribers, though subscribers may opt out, in some cases resulting in a monthly savings of C$2, by contacting their provider. Conversely, some service providers (including Shaw Direct) require subscribers to opt-in (for the same $2 charge) if they wish to receive the magazine.


The Movie Network has distribution agreements for original programming produced and owned by the American pay networks HBO (including sister network Cinemax) and Showtime. The current agreements are part of wider long-term deals between those networks and TMN's parent company Bell Media which also include video-on-demand rights to library HBO series, and older seasons of Showtime series, for its hybrid VOD service CraveTV.

In a small number of cases, some current HBO or Showtime original series do not air on either TMN or HBO Canada. These are mainly series commissioned from outside production companies which retain international distribution rights and, usually, sell them to other Canadian channels. For example, the Showtime series Homeland is not covered under TMN's output deal with Showtime; instead, its international distribution rights were retained by 20th Century Fox which sold the Canadian rights to new episodes to Super Channel under its own output deal in effect when the series premiered. (However, CraveTV holds non-exclusive streaming rights to older seasons of Homeland through a separate deal with Fox, and the series is included in CraveTV's branded "Showtime Collection".)

Before other Canadian specialty networks like TSN and MuchMusic were licensed, First Choice prominently offered commercial-free professional sporting and concert events. Sports events featured on the channel came from such distributors as ESPN, USA Network and HBO.

Movie library

As of 2016, The Movie Network maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with domestically-based Canadian film distributor Entertainment One (whose library includes the Canadian distribution rights to titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, Lionsgate Films and Focus Features) and American film studios such as Sony Pictures Entertainment (including Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Animation and TriStar Pictures, but not Sony Pictures Classics which are distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media instead), Universal Pictures (including Universal Animation Studios, Working Title Films, Illumination Entertainment, Focus Features and Legendary Pictures), and Warner Bros. (including Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema, whose 1989-2010 film library is distributed in Canada by Entertainment One, and Castle Rock Entertainment).

TMN also had a deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures giving it rights to all Disney titles (including those under the Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disneynature, Marvel Studios/Entertainment, Disneytoon Studios and Touchstone Pictures labels, but not Lucas Film Limited since Disney's first movie from them, Strange Magic was released in 2015 after TMN lost the rights to broadcast Disney movies) released theatrically through December 31, 2014, some of which continued to air on TMN into 2016. The equivalent rights for Disney movies released theatrically starting in 2015 are instead held by Netflix Canada and are now replaced by Fox films.[16] Two of Touchstone's titles, The Tempest and Gnomeo & Juliet, are distributed in Canada by Entertainment One.

In 2016, when 20th Century Fox (plus the Fox Searchlight Pictures, Regency Enterprises, and Blue Sky Studios labels) debuted on TMN, the first film on TMN by Fox was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, despite Netflix Canada is still getting Fox movies too.

List of programs broadcast by The Movie Network

Original programming

Acquired programming

Programs acquired from HBO (U.S.)
Programs acquired from Showtime (U.S.)
Other acquired programs

Duopoly issue

For many years, the de facto twin regional monopolies of The Movie Network and Movie Central have been criticised. At the time, no other similar premium services had broadcast within Canada. Critics argued that this limited competition and consumer choice, while proponents said that there was very little in content or functionality that was not already offered by the existing services.

In July 2005, the CRTC, the Canadian federal broadcast regulator, announced that public hearings would begin on October 24 of that year on four applications for new national pay television licences from different groups. Each applicant claimed that they would commit to invest and develop more Canadian-produced programming content. On May 18, 2006, the CRTC announced that had accepted an application by Allarco Entertainment, while the other three were rejected.[17] This approved application effectively ended The Movie Network/Movie Central duopoly in Canada. On November 2, 2007, the new service was launched as Super Channel.


  2. "CANADIAN TRADE-MARK DATA - Application Number 0537276". Canadian Trade-marks Database. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  3. Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (1984-01-24). "Decision CRTC 84-32". Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  4. 1 2 Classic Movie Channels Mpix and MorePix Re-Brand to The Movie Network Encore and The Movie Network Encore2 CNW 2012-08-20
  5. BCE takeover of Astral OK’d by Competition Bureau, The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press), March 4, 2013.
  6. Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC, Broadcaster Magazine, March 6, 2013.
  7. CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger, CBC News, June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  8. The Canadian Press staff (2015-11-19). "Bell expanding TMN into national pay TV service; to be sole operator of HBO Canada". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
  9. Bugailiskis, John (19 November 2015). "UPDATED: Corus walks away from pay TV for $211 million; Bell signs new multiplatform deal with HBO, will take TMN national". Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  10. "Broadcasting Applications Report (2015)". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 18 December 2015. (see applications 2015-0639-6 and 2015-0640-4)
  11. "Rogers | Sign up for the Movie Network". Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  12. Astral/Corus press release, September 22, 2008.
  13. 1 2 "The Movie Network Launches Three Video Streaming Services". Broadcaster Magazine. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  15. "Movie Entertainment Magazine". Bell Media. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  16. "Netflix signs deal to offer Disney movies in Canada". 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
  17. "CRTC Decision 2006-193". 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-13.

External links

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